Many people say Stanley Cups are won in the offseason, when no one is looking and guys are putting in the extra work behind the scenes. To a certain extent, that sentiment remains true, but it’s not earned or given until June.
That’s part of Rod Brind’Amour’s message to the Carolina Hurricanes, as they hit the ice for the opening day of training camp on Thursday.
Coming off of an Eastern Conference Finals berth and heading into a regular season where many media members and sportsbooks alike list the Hurricanes as one of the favorites, if not the favorite, to hoist the Stanley Cup, it can be easy to look ahead and want to accomplish your goal right in this moment.
Unfortunately, that can’t happen.
“You can’t win the Stanley Cup today, so it’s about our processes,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour during Thursday’s media availability. “We try and get better every day, as boring as it sounds. That’s really how you have to approach it.”
Carolina took that first step in Thursday’s practice, splitting into two groups among the 47-man training camp roster.
Group C1 featured what is likely to be almost all of the NHL squad, while Group C2 featured a handful of offseason signees, the Canes’ prospects, and all seven players on a professional tryout.
Brind’Amour knew that each player was aware of the expectations in camp, but he himself was also aware of how the first few days will look inside PNC Arena.
“The first few days, the guys are ramping it up,” said Brind’Amour. “Everybody has been skating for a long, long time, but they haven’t hit each other and they haven’t really pushed the pace that it needs to get to, so you’re just trying to get that. That’s really what it’s about.”
That also applies to Andrei Svechnikov, as he prepares to return to the ice for game action just over six months since tearing his ACL.
Svechnikov, who was the first Hurricane on the ice on Thursday, was seen sporting a yellow non-contact jersey, indicating his progress, but also emphasizing that he is yet to return to all hockey activities.
Brind’Amour reverted to Svechnikov and the medical staff in terms of a timetable for his return, but the 23-year old did not mix his words when discussing his status for opening night on Oct. 11th.
“There’s a good chance, but I can’t promise anything,” said Svechnikov.
Ahead of that opening tilt in Raleigh against the Senators, multiple position battles await, mainly on the Canes’ fourth line and in the third defensive pairing.
Prospects Ryan Suzuki and Vasily Ponomarev will likely test Jack Drury for the 4C spot, while a handful of blueliners will compete for at least one spot in the defensive rotation.
Six preseason games lie ahead for both veterans and prospects to stake their claim on opening roster and lineup spots.
But even with roster uncertainties, Rod Brind’Amour and the entire training camp attendees are on the same page.
“Guys understand if they don’t take care of themselves or [don’t] keep trying to get better, they won’t be around. We definitely have a hard-working group.”